It was an epic birthday party of Ashland proportions Wednesday night at the Wild Goose Café and Bar.
The absent guest of honor was Bob Dylan, born May 24, 1941. An estimated 20 performers came out to pay tribute from as far away as Bend for the eighth annual Bob Dylan cover song open mic night.
Sunday night, Dylan's actual birthday, at the Wild Goose is reserved for the weekly open mic event.
George Clark, 55, an Ashland resident since 1975, has been involved with the event for the past 10 years. The first two celebrations were held at Pioneer Hall. He liked it so much that, back in 2001, he decided to keep it going, he said.
"The Dylan birthday celebration is pretty much the reason I moved here. No place else does that," said Steve Larson, a self-proclaimed semi-regular of the Wild Goose.
"Dylan is the most important guy since Shakespeare," Larson added.
Elizabeth Clark decorated the dimly lit bar with streamers and balloons. She was also responsible for the Bob Dylan trivia questions that kept the patrons entertained in between performers, with prizes awarded to the audience member who answered correctly.
The local band Penguins on a Rock featuring Gene Burnett performed songs from Dylan's Christian era including "Serve Somebody." It seemed no one could sit still during their set with dancers in the front and back of the venue.
Craig Martin, a Dylan night performer for the past five years, backed up singers on the guitar. Jim Quimby, on piano, participated for the sixth time. Drummer Steven Lindley kept the rhythm flowing for most of the night.
More than singers paid tribute to Dylan. Poet Bob Pinkel read his original piece — written just for the event — which drew a positive response from the crowd. Another poet, T-Poe, simply read Dylan verses with his pleasantly deep and somewhat gruff speaking voice.
"It's a great reflection of the esoteric nature of Ashland," Lisa Wooldridge said of the event.
There was a long list of performers and songs, with Kara Hanley singing "Don't Think Twice" and Chris Daley performing "When I Paint My Masterpiece."
Ax Prince and Michelle Bellamy teamed up for a couple songs, including "Ain't Going No Where," that had the packed bar singing along and tapping their toes.
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